Getting Pregnant After Depo Provera Shots
Are you considering the Depo Provera injections as a form of birth control? Are you already on Depo Provera or have stopped it and wondering what it is doing to your body? Read on to find out more about this birth control and the long term effects it may have on your body.
What is the Depo Shot ?
If you were to conduct an online search on the birth control option Depo Provera, what would you find? People asking about side affects? How about the thousands of women searching for answers concerning pregnancy during or after getting the shot?
I am one of those women. I had only one Depo shot, and I was searching for answers I did not have after stopping the shot. Here I am going to share my research about the Depo shot and how it affects getting pregnant in the future.
Depo Provera, or DMPA, is a form of birth control given as an injection. It contains mexdroxyprogesterone acetate, a synthetic form of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. It prevents pregnancy for up to three months by stopping ovulation, thickening the cervical mucus, and changing the lining of the uterus so a pregnancy can't happen. The failure rate for this kind of birth control is around 0.3%, meaning that only three in one thousand women may get pregnant while using it.
A woman seeking to take this form of birth control should take the first shot within five days after the beginning of a normal menstrual cycle. For women getting the shot after giving birth, it is recommended that they wait a few weeks before getting the shot. Because a normal menstrual cycle may not occur for a while after giving birth, a health care provider might give a pregnancy test to ensure there is no pregnancy before administering the shot.
This form of birth control is for those who wish not to get pregnant at all or who wish not to get pregnant for a long while after giving birth. The recommended use for this shot is no more than two years, unless no other form of birth control works or is acceptable, due to the fact that it may cause bones to weaken from calcium loss.
What is Progesterone ?
Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that helps with ovulation and menstrual cycles. When a woman is about to ovulate, or release an egg from the ovaries, progesterone is secreted to help prepare the uterus to accept the egg if it is fertilized and pregnancy occurs. A pregnancy would help keep the progesterone levels in the body high to prevent further ovulation. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop and a menstrual cycle begins.
The synthetic progesterone in Depo Provera works by keeping the progesterone levels in the body at a higher level, essentially making the body think it's pregnant and preventing further ovulation.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Depo Shot
not effective against STDs
protection lasts for three months
loss of bone minerals, causing osteoperosis
less expensive than other birth control
quarterly doctors visits
no need to remember it, other than dr. visits
chance of not having periods while on shot
effects last for a while even after last shot
may prevent uterine fibroids
many unpleasant side effects
What is Depo Provera?
Before you had the shot, did you read all there is out there about Depo Provera?
Side Effects of Depo Shot
Depo Provera has many unpleasant side effects, a few of which are also found in other forms of birth control:
- irregular bleeding, heavy bleeding, or no bleeding at all
- weight gain
- abdominal discomfort
- hair growth or loss
- breast tenderness
- fluid retention or bloating
Weight gain is one of the side effects that bothers women the most. In fact, for every year a woman is on Depo Provera, she gains additional weight, nearly doubling the weight gain from the initial year.
A combination of some of these side effects--namely fatigue, lack of bleeding (amenorrhea), breast tenderness, and bloating--can make some women feel like they are pregnant. Many women search online, trying to see if others are experiencing the same thing, which many women are.
Serious side effects include anaphylactic reactions (severe allergic reactions) and ectopic pregnancy.
Periods on the Depo Shot
After the first Depo shot, many women will experience irregular or unpredictable bleeding as the body gets used to the synthetic hormone. For many women on the Depo shot, periods will be light and often disappear after the first few months on the shot (that is called amenorrhea , or the absence of a period). Other women may experience heavy bleeding, which may last only for the length of a period or may last for weeks on end.
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Can You Get Pregnant After Only One Depo Shot?
Yes, you can get pregnant after only one Depo shot. It's just a matter of when you might get pregnant.
Some women, if they miss their second Depo shot, can get pregnant right away. For others, it can take months to conceive. For me personally, it took 18 months after only one Depo shot to conceive.
Can You Get Pregnant on the Depo Shot?
Even though the Depo Provera shot is meant to prevent pregnancy, there still is a chance you could become pregnant while on the shot. Here are some possibilities of how the Depo shot may fail:
- the first shot was not given within the first 5 days of a normal period and you have had intercourse before the shot (meaning you were already pregnant at the time the shot was administered)
- you had unprotected intercourse within the first month of the shot, before it was absolutely effective in your body
- you did not get the next shot within 12 weeks
For reasons unknown, a few women each year get pregnant while on the shot, even after being on the shot for longer than the first three months and getting it at the recommended times.
Just remember: the only 100% birth control method is no intercourse at all. All other forms are 99% or lower. If you want to prevent pregnancy while on the shot, use a backup method like a condom or spermicide.
If you do become pregnant on the shot, stop taking the shot immediately and contact your health care provider. There is little or no increased risk of birth defects, yet in some countries it is reported that babies conceived while their mothers were on the shot may have a lower birth rate.
Stopping the Depo Shot
After experiencing the side effects of Depo Provera or wanting to become pregnant, many women choose to stop getting the shots. To do so, contact your health care provider and ask to cancel your next shot. You may be asked if you would like to consider any other birth control or if you need any more information.
When you stop taking the shot, it may take several weeks to several months to have a regular period again. You may once again experience irregular bleeding and abnormal periods until the hormone is out of your system. Most women may not experience ovulation for approximately 6-9 months after stopping the shot, while others may get pregnant soon after stopping the shot. If you want to stop the shot yet still don't want to become pregnant, it's best to use some other form of birth control.
How Long After the Depo Shot Can You Get Pregnant?
As mentioned above, regular periods may not return for several weeks to several months. On average, most women will not ovulate for approximately 6-9 months, and some sources say that time frame may even be 6-18 months.
Two things may affect how long it takes for you to get pregnant after stopping the shot: how long you took the shots and how consistent you were with taking them. Few women can get pregnant immediately after taking the shot. For many others, pregnancy doesn't occur for months or even years after stopping the shot. In my personal experience, it is taking longer than a year to conceive, as I have seen in some sources to be true for some women.
How to Get Pregnant After Depo Shot
If you would like to get pregnant after taking the Depo shot, here are some things you should do:
- track your periods and make note when they become regular
- track your ovulation once your periods become regular or take an ovulation test
- have intercourse every other day from the time you stop your period until your next period, especially around ovulation
- take prenatal vitamins to give your body what it needs to support a pregnancy
Above all, be patient. It may take a while to become pregnant after stopping the shot.
Depo Detox Diet
Some women, after stopping the Depo shot, turn to a detox diet to help their bodies get rid of the synthetic progesterone lingering in their bodies. The detox diet helps to flush the synthetic progesterone from the liver and may help with becoming pregnant.
Note: If you are considering one of these detox diets, first consult your doctor. Some of the herbs may not be suitable for you or may be dangerous for an underlying condition you may have. You also should wait a few weeks to allow your body to rid itself of the hormone and to heal.
A detox diet may include the following:
- a lot of water
- fresh fruits, vegetables and their juices
- herbal teas
- dandelion root
- milk thistle
Again, be sure to consult your doctor before going on any kind of detox diet.
Depo Provera Shots
As you can see, the Depo Provera shots are a long term birth control option that may not be for everyone. Make sure to make an informed decision if you are choosing this shot as your birth control.